The ownership of British cereal favourite Weetabix was re-hashed today, with China’s Bright Food taking a 60% stake from the current owners Lion Capital, in a deal valuing the manufacturer at £1.2bn. Lion Capital and members of Weetabix’s management will retain the remaining 40% stake in the company.
Weetabix, which used to be family-owned, now exports its cereals to more than 80 countries and owns other delicious brands including Alpen, Ready Brek and Weetos. It was sold to Lion Capital in 2004, after having been in the family since it was founded in 1936, so it is a genuine British cereal institution.
The deal is a coup for Bright Food, after a series of failed takeovers have dogged its overseas expansion plans. It tried to buy Australian firm CSR’s sugar business and also French yoghurt manufacturer Yoplait, as well as US retailer GNC and Britain’s United Biscuits. All of the deals fell through for various reasons, including pricing disagreements, terms and regulatory issues.
Bright Food calls itself ‘China’s leading food group’, and is apparently looking to cash in on the growing popularity of breakfast cereals in China, where hot cereals in particular go like, well, hot cakes. Let’s hope that this is one great British brand takeover that goes better than Kraft’s infamous acquisition of Cadbury Schweppes…